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LEONARD ORTIZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
North All-Stars Noah Evans, left, Christian Williams, middle, and Rasheed Williams each have family related reasons for wanting to play in the Orange County All-Star Game on Thursday night at Orange Coast College.

North players' love of game runs in the family

STAFF WRITER

GARDEN GROVE – The route started with a quick explanation of lineage. An impromptu history lesson illuminated the path. A personal revelation paved the final steps.

In just a few minutes after a recent practice, four players on the North team for the Brea Lions Orange County All-Star Game ditched the X’s and O’s on their play charts to share a common thread to their journey.

Cousins Rasheed and Christian Williams charted their bloodlines. Wide receiver Hudson Hankins traced his grandfather’s roots to the county’s first all-star game. And receiver/tight end Noah Evans, son of an ex-NFL quarterback, shared his desire to navigate his own course.

In one way or another, family is a major motivating factor pushing four of the most intriguing North players toward Thursday’s kickoff at Orange Coast College at 7:15 p.m.

“(Family) starts a chain reaction,” said Evans, son of former USC and Raiders quarterback Vince Evans.

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O.C. ALL-STAR GAME
When, where: Thursday, at Orange Coast College, 7:15 p.m.
Fan info: Tickets can be purchased at the game, $12. ... A FanFest, which includes food, car show and sponsor exhibits, runs from 4:30-6:30 p.m. ... More info: oc-allstarfootball.com.

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The connection between Rasheed and Christian Williams, from Mater Dei and Villa Park, respectively, began during their childhood. Christian’s mother, Julia, is an aunt of Rasheed’s mother, Adrian.

Rasheed and Christian were close during their middle school years but then drifted apart.

They recently celebrated graduation together. They also lined up against each other this past season in Mater Dei’s 63-0 nonleague victory against Villa Park. Rasheed manned his defensive end spot for the Monarchs while Christian played tight end.

Both delivered strong seasons in the fall. Rasheed was selected first-team All-County and signed with Idaho State, while Christian helped the Spartans capture the Crestview League title.

The North coaches didn’t know the boys were cousins during player selections, but the duo was excited with the results. Rasheed and Christian will play on the same team for the first time Thursday.

“My last (high school) game, I get to play with family,” Rasheed said. “There’s nothing better than that.”

Christian, who plans to attend Fullerton College, also plays defensive end and hopes to play on the same unit as Rasheed. The boys’ cheering section would love that.

“Our moms were pretty excited (that we’re teammates),” Christian said.

Orange Lutheran’s Hankins (6-0, 195) also was excited to hear from North coach Mike Enright of Rancho Alamitos. His grandfather, Doug, who played halfback for Fullerton, took part in the first North-South All-Star Game in 1959 at Santa Ana College.

“It’s kind of cool,” Hankins said. “I’m playing in the same game my grandpa played in. … It’s funny how it all works out.”

Hankins, a slot wide receiver bound for Orange Coast College, brings a unique history to the field. As a youth, he played football and competed in MMA, track, hockey and baseball.

His training from MMA showed in his blocking at Orange Lutheran.

“I kind of led-block (on special teams) for (returner) Elijah Bynum,” he said. “Just knocked people over for him.”

Evans grew up playing Pop Warner in Brea. He played running back and became teammates with North safety/running back Billy Hanley of Brea Olinda.

Evans said his father encouraged him to try football but left the decision to continue to him.

“His philosophy was to try it one year and if you like it, keep playing it,” Evans said. “Every sport you can think of, I tried it.”

Evans switched to receiver as a freshman at Whittier Christian and started racking up the receptions for the small private school. He finished his four-year career with an Orange County-record 240 receptions for 2,933 yards.

This past fall, he had 91 catches for 1,256 yards.

“Not every all-star comes from the biggest school or the best team,” Enright said of Evans

Evans (6-4, 230) is excited about the all-star game. He plans to take the junior college route – which his father also followed – by attending Mt. SAC as a tight end/H-back.

Vince Evans played at Los Angeles City College before moving on to USC and the NFL, where his career included stints with the Raiders and Bears.

Noah Evans, wearing a USC cap after practice, pleasantly answered questions about his father, who is now successful in real estate, but Noah doesn’t look to bring up his father’s accomplishments with teammates.

“I love what he did,” Noah said of his father. “But I’m trying to make my own path and do my own thing.”

For Evans, Hankins and the Williams cousins, that family influenced journey continues Thursday.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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